Resentment VS Rivalry: While We Will Always Hate the Jets, They Should Not Be Our Greatest Rival
The fan base of the Miami Dolphins has always held the New York Jets as the team’s most hated rival, but at this pivotal time in the Dolphins’ history, fans of the team should look north to Foxboro to find the team’s true rival. Yes, hating the Jets will always be ingrained in Dolphins fans, but sometimes a rivalry can drag a team down. This piece details why Miami fans truly have to refocus their energy on the New England Patriots if the team wants to take another step forward.
Why Are The Jets Miami’s Rival:
The AFC East is unique in that it encompasses a geographic rivalry, as well as one on the football field, containing Boston, New York City, and Miami. These are three of the largest cities on the east coast, and there can be a superiority complex developed between residents of each metropolis. Miami and New York City have an especially contentious relationship because there is somewhat of a resident swap between the states. Florida’s lifestyle attracts wealthy residents of the northeast to come down in order to escape the cold winters, as they retreat down the coast to the sanctuary of warm weather. Let me get one thing straight: Florida is a conglomeration of the craziest people that this world has to offer. Seriously, clinically insane. But hey, the weather ain’t half bad.
Anyone who has lived in South Florida has seen the number of New Yorkers who decide to retreat from their city in the late months of the year, and spend their time prancing around on the beaches of the Sunshine State. This leads to a hostile environment, as Dolphins and Jets fans are forced to live together in such close proximity. (Yes, plenty of New Englanders also make the pilgrimage to Florida, but the presence of the New York fans seem to be felt more heavily by residents of the area. This is more likely attributed to the tenuous relationship between the fan bases this article is founded upon.)
As Dolphins fans also know, this also creates a problem for the team’s annual “home” game in Miami. With an enormous and wealthy group of New Yorkers in South Florida for the majority of the months which make up the NFL season, the Jets @ Dolphins game usually falls in a time where New Yorkers can flock to Sun Life Stadium, and invade the home turf of Dolphins fans. This leads to one of the most interesting environments I have encountered in football, as usually relaxed and welcoming Dolphins fans turn into a whole different creature. Have you read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? No? Even better: think about how your parents treat you when friends are over, versus when they leave to go home. Yeah, it can be that scary.
The most heated games, and most vicious relationship is between Miami fans and the New York Jets. Maybe that comes from the nature of the two cities. New York is a hard working, fast paced environment. Miami is a party town, with a less rapid lifestyle. Yes, people work hard in Miami, but it is an undeniably slower paced lifestyle. South Beach, and the Concrete Jungle; the two could not be more opposite. This feeds into the Dolphins and Jets rivalry, with huge groups of opposing fans thrown together by geographic and tourism patterns.
Defining A Rivalry:
Before embarking on this piece, I decided to look up the word “rival” in the dictionary. The definition I found is as follows:
Rival- (noun) a person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for superiority in the same field of activity.
This is where the problem lies. Most Miami fans consider the team’s main rival to be the New York Jets. It has been this way for a long, long time. What is the problem with a historical rivalry between two division opponents? Nothing. The problem is when the rivalry becomes a stagnant one, in which neither team is gaining any ground.
The main issue with having a team like the New York Jets as your rival is that you end up tied to them. If your rival is the force you are fighting with for superiority, you will try to play to the level of that rival. Does Miami really want to compete to play better than New York? Really? You just want your quarterbacks to just be better than Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez? You only want to win the division 4 times in team history? You want cheerleaders who cover themselves up in full body suits? NO.
Bigger Fish to Fry: The New England Patriots
After addressing how the Jets rivalry has dragged down Miami, it is time to evaluate which team we want to compete with for success. I’m going to give you two options. You tell me which one sounds better. Now, don’t actually say the correct choice out loud, because I can’t hear you. That would be dumber than deciding to be a Jets fan.
1. Has won the division four times in team history, 7th worst winning percentage in NFL history, entering 2015 with Geno Smith as your starting quarterback, cheerleaders wear jump suits
2. 4 Super Bowls, Hall of Fame QB and Head Coach, 8th best all time winning percentage, consistent domination in the division for a full decade.
Yeah, sign me up for number one as well.
It is somewhat mysterious to me why the Patriots are not currently the team’s biggest rivals. If you look at the all time numbers for all three franchises, it is clear that Miami stacks up more closely with the New England Patriots, than with the New York Jets. Looking at the numbers, it would seem that Miami’s historic rivalry would be with New England. However, due to the factors with geography and poorly-mixed fan bases, Miami and New York have always had a contentious football relationship. This also could be partly due to the fact that the Dolphins and Jets had some truly legendary games, with Dan Marino and Vinny Testaverde facing off to combine for seemingly 10,000 yards per game. Seriously, I think they outlawed defense for these match-ups.
Despite the history between the franchises, it is imperative for the team’s forward progress that the fan base shifts the focus towards New England. Trust me, the Miami Dolphins have already done this, making acquisitions to help the team challenge the Patriots (which they have done the past two seasons, splitting the series 2-2). The next piece of the puzzle is for the fan base to shift their energy from New York City, to the Fortress of Darkness in Foxboro.
Finally, What It Will Mean to Shift Energy Towards New England:
It is time for a change. It’s that simple. And while a change on the field is important, a change in the culture of the fans is just as imperative for the team. Yes, hating the Jets is fun. They make it really, really easy for Dolphins’ fans. And I’m sure Dolphins fans are easy for them to hate as well. But, a line has to be drawn between hatred and rivalry, and the time for Dolphins fans to draw that line could be now.
Yes, it is entirely possible to hate both teams. The majority of Dolphins fans really aren’t fans of Brady, Belichick, or the culture in New England (obviously). But, if Miami wants to stop being a bottom feeder, the team has to stop putting so much energy into another under-performing franchise.
Now I know that Jets fans are going to sprint into the comments of this article quicker than Rex Ryan when he sees an all you can eat buffet, but I am not trying to bash on their team. The real exercise here is pointing out that regardless of what New York has been able to do, the Patriots are the undeniably more successful team. And that is why Miami has to target them as their main foe each and every season. They are a chance for the Dolphins to gauge their progress against the best challenge the division has to offer. If Miami really wants to start winning consistently, the team’s fans will have to stop circling the Jets game in a red marker, and move onto the matchup with New England. How does a team get to be the best? By beating the best. While hating the Jets will always be a pastime for Dolphins fans, it is time to move on. It is the end of an era. The rivalry with the New York Jets is doing nothing but holding back the Miami Dolphins, and it is time for the team to move forward, and attack the rivalry with New England as vigorously as possible.
The road will not be as easy once the Patriots become the main focus of the Dolphins’ fan base. Yes, the team will get beaten. They wont be as good as their rival. Tom Brady will do humiliating things to the Dolphins’ secondary. These are givens. But that is a necessary evolution the team will have to go through. The only way for a team to truly get better is to get knocked down, and learn from it. The team learns nothing by beating up on New York, or losing to them in sloppy games. The real way for the team to improve is to learn from either beating an elite team, or seeing how New England is able to beat them. If the Dolphins want to eventually come out on top, and reestablish the dominance within the AFC East that they held for so long, they will have to pour their hearts and souls into each year’s contest with the New England Patriots.